This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That he will not come to the feast? — John 11. 56. This question had its origin, no doubt, in a great variety of motives. Doubtless the motive in most cases was curiosity. The fame of J esus had spread throughout the country. They had heard of his wonderful works — stories concerned with his opening the eyes of the blind, making deaf men to hear, cleansing lepers, and causing lame and crippled people to walk and run, and last of all had come the startling announcement of his bringing Lazarus back from the grave. This miracle had been the talk of the country in an ever-widening circle for many weeks, and they had come up from the towns and villages and country places to the feast, hoping more than for anything else that they might see Jesus. Of course among them were some sullen and vicious Pharisees who hoped to see him that they might do him harm ; but the great multitude felt a true desire to see him, and to hear from his own lips the messages of wisdom. To see Jesus and hear him spea&, and possibly be healed by him, was the prevailing motive that had drawn the people to the feast r 381
382 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE and so on every lip was the question anxiousl/ asked, "Will he come to the feast ?"
We are drawing near to our feast of Christmas good cheer, and I can imagine no theme more appropriate to the occasion and no theme with more promise of profit in it than that we should ask ourselves the question, "How can I insure the presence of Jesus as my guest at Christmas time ?" I Since we are assured in God's Word that J esus is "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever," we have some sure ground of faith as to the conditions which are necessary to assure to us the presence of Jesus as our Christmas guest. In the first place we know that if we hold Christ in loving remembrance, and think about him, recalling his kindnesses, and converse with our friends about his loving personality, he will be with us as our guest and commune with us. One of the sweetest incidents in all the ITew Testament is the story of Christ's appearance to the two disciples, in all probability Cleopas and his wife, who on the morning after the resurrection walked out of Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. As they went they conversed about their experiences with Christ; they talked over all they had known of him ; and as they talked the tears rolled down their cheeks, and their hearts
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
melted. And in the midst of their conversation, while they were yet a long way from their destination, Jesus came and walked with them. Their eyes were holden so they did not recognize him, and the Stranger, as they took him to be, with sympathetic kindness deferentially asked them what was the subject of their conversation, which evidently gave them such great sadness. And they told him that they had been talking about Jesus, a wonderful personality who had lived a life of great purity and beauty, who had wrought marvelous deeds of kindness and love, and who had been taken by wicked hands and crucified, and it was now the third day since his death, and some of the women among his friends who had gone to the tomb in the morning had brought back news of his resurrection, and they knew not what to think. Then the Stranger began to talk to them about the Old Testament Scriptures, and he recalled the prophecies to their minds, and showed thern with great clearness how the death and resurrection of Christ were part and parcel of the prophecies of the old prophets, and as he talked their sadness dropped from them. Their tears were dried, their heavy hearts became buoyant, and their cheeks flushed with hope and faith. About this time they came near to their home, and the mysterious Stranger was bidding them farewell and going on his way. But the conversation had
384 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE been such a comfort to their hearts that they could not bear to have him leave them. So they begged and entreated him to go in with them and spend the night as their guest. lie went in with them and tarried until the evening meal was spread, and
when they sat down at the table he took the place as host rather than guest, and asked a blessing upon the food. And as he did so their eyes were opened, and they knew him. And after he was gone on his way, they said one to another, with throbbing hearts, eyes full of tenderness, cheeks all aglow, and voices soft with love, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us by the way, and opened to us the Scriptures ?" This is a sure way to have Jesus with you on Christmas Day. Think of him lovingly, tenderly —talk about him to your friends, recall all his kindness and mercy, and the dearest guest in all your company on Christmas Day will be your Saviour and your Lord. II He will come if you feel your need of him and send for him. Christ had some friends who lived in Bethany — Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. During the absence of Jesus from the immediate vicinity Lazarus sickened and died. We can imagine how the hearts of those sisters yearned for Christ, who was their dear friend.
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
during those days of illness. They had witnessed so many of his deeds of kindness and of healing that they would say to each other every day and
almost every hour in the day, "If only Jesus were here, I am sure he would but lay his hand upon the brow of our brother and the fever would be cooled." But they were unable to get track of him until Lazarus was dead. Christ immediately responded when their message reached him, telling his disciples that they must go at once to Bethany. When they drew near Martha ran out to meet Jesus, with the despairing cry upon her lips, "If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!" And Christ had a long and remarkable conversation with her. Later he came into the house and asked for Mary, and they came to her and said, "The Master is come and calleth for thee !" And Mary went away to sit at his feet and listen to the great spiritual comfort that came from his lips. Afterward he went with them to the grave and wept with them, but brought back their brother again from the dead. ow, let us not put all this away from us as a thing of the past. With Jesus there is no past; it is always present. He is always God manifest in the flesh. He is forever to all ages Immanuel — God with us. And he is with us to-day, if we invite him, as surely and as tenderly as in any other age of the world.
I have seen a most interesting story of the
386 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE "Black Death/' In the year 1353 one of the greatest pestilences recorded in history had swept over every country in Europe, claiming its dead by unnumbered thousands. Men fled in terror from their fellow men, in awful fear of their breath or
touch, and for weeks sustained a strange, weird siege in solitude. In their terrible fear men became like wild beasts, refusing even the cup of cold water and the simplest service through dread of contamination. So it continued until Christmas Eve, when one man in Goldberg, believing himself the only inhabitant of the city left alive, unbarred his door at dead of night, and went forth into the air. He knew that it was Christmas, and as he recalled other Christmases, with their sacred joys and their festivity, he lifted up his voice in a song : "To us this day is born a child, God with us! His mother is a virgin mildj God with us! God with us! Against us who dare be?" As he sang, through a barred door came another voice in response to his own, and then the door was flung wide, and a man joined him in the street and sang with him. Together they marched through the town, giving it its first audible sound save wails and cries of terror since the plague descended upon it.
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
The song woke strange echoes. From their living tombs men, women, and children came forth to the number of twenty-five — all that were left of the town — and marching through the deathstricken streets, they sang with new courage: "God with us ! Against us who dare be ?" Whether it was that the plague had spent its violence, or, which is more probable, that the minds of the survivors were more serene, none of this little band died of the "Black Death." They returned to their homes, buried their dead, and the town began to awake. The incident was remembered, and for centuries the town continued to meet each Christmas Eve at midnight, and at two o'clock march through the streets singing in triumph: "God with us! Against us who dare be?" ) III If you have come to Christmas time with a lonely sense of failure and disappointment, so that you let your heart go out wishing for Jesus, you may be sure of his coming to bless your Christmas and add to its cheer. Do you not remember that time between Christ's resurrection and his ascension, when some of the disciples were together, and were anxious and uncertain, not fully understanding the appearances and disappearances of Jesus, and Peter said he was going fishing ? Some of his friends and the friends of Jesus went with him.
388 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE They fished all night without success. In the morning, just as the dawn was coming on, they saw some one beside the lake, and he called out
to them asking what luck they had had, and they made answer that they had had none, but had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Then the Stranger on the lakeshore shouted to them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and when they did so these men, who had been fishing all night without getting anything, found themselves unable to draw the net in because of their great catch. And John, who was next to Peter in the boat, at that moment recognized Jesus, and told Peter that it was the Lord. Peter, in his great anxiety to get to Jesus, swam ashore, and after a little the others brought in the net with one hundred and fifty-three fine fish, and they had a breakfast with Jesus there in the open air by the lake. But they had a love talk with Jesus afterward that was infinitely more delicious than their breakfast. Are there any disappointed, lonely hearts here who have been fishing all the year and taken nothing? Are you coming to Christmas with a sore memory of the hardships of the year? Is your heart heavy with disappointment and defeat? Listen ! The Christ who walked by the lakeshore, where his friends had fished in vain through the long hours of the night, that he might comfort
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
their morning with success and breakfast with them in love, is your Saviour and your friend also.
Do you suppose that those disciples, talking of it afterward, would not have counted that to be the supreme fishing excursion of their lives ? So this may be the supreme year of your life if, at its close, after disappointment and defeat and hard experiences, there shall come this Christmas season a new and tenderer fellowship with Jesus Christ, your loving Friend and Saviour. And we must not forget, if there is in our hearts a keen sense of poverty, and of having but little to do with, that Jesus is able to multiply our little into an abundance. The Christ who took the little lad's loaves and fishes and fed the hungry thousands is the same Jesus who can come into your Christmas time and take the little that you have with which to bless your fellow men and multiply it beyond all your hope. Jacob A. Kiis, whose devoted, Christlike service has been such a benediction to the poor of IsTew York city, tells a story of "Mulberry Street" that I would like to condense for our comfort. It is the story of a widow who had a small income which came from the interest on some government bonds. She had read somewhere that the poor in the city tenements had little chance to know Christmas joys. She said to herself, "One child shall have a Christmas tree/' and she cut off a dollar
390' THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE coupon and mailed it to a college professor to find the child. The coupon looked like a miniature dollar, and as the professor took it from the letter on the morning before Christmas, he said, "Ah, little dollar, I know where you are needed." He went down town to a narrow street with five-
story tenements on each side. Entering one, he groped his way through a dark hall to a rear room, where lived six children, and the baby was sick, and the father out of work. But there w T as a branch of evergreen in one corner which Johnnie had found by a church door. On it hung some colored newspaper pictures and three pieces of colored glass. The professor brought out the little dollar. "A friend sends you this for Christmas. Buy something for the children and a good dinner for all." The woman hurried to the grocery store and carefully filled her basket, and gave the grocer the little dollar, but he was afraid to take it. As she was sadly putting down her precious basket, a gentleman standing by interposed and gave the grocery keeper a dollar bill for the coupon. As this gentleman went out on the street he met a hackman who had an old horse who had been doing errands in the neighborhood for many years. "See here, Thomas, take this and buy your horse a bag of oats, so he can keep Christmas," and the gentleman passed over the little dollar. The feed-man.
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
when Thomas bought the oats, sent the little dollar to the pawnshop to see if it were good, and the pawnbroker promptly handed over a dollar bill for it.
Later a young girl came into the pawnshop and asked for the loan of three dollars on a watch. At first the pawnbroker would give but two, but at last he said : "Here, it is Christmas. I'll take the risk." And he added the coupon to the two dollars. A little later the girl stood at a knit-goods counter picking out a shawl. The clerk objected to the coupon, but took it to the desk. The storekeeper came back and looked sharply at the girl, and then, saying it was all right, graciously attended her to the door. As he stood there a thin voice near by said, "Merry Christmas ! here's your paper !" The storekeeper knew the struggle life was to the newsboy, and he said, "Here's a dollar, like yourself; it is small, but it is all right. Have a good time with it." On reaching home the newsboy found an ambulance in the midst of the crowd at the door of the tenement. As it drove off a little girl was left weeping on the top step. Her father had been taken to the hospital, and to-morrow would be Christmas. The newsboy took a turn down the hall to think. "Here, Susie, you take this and let the kids have their Christmas. Mr. Stein
392 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE gave it to me. It is a little one, but it is all right/' There was a Christmas tree in Susie's flat, with candles and presents on it, but the little dollar rested securely in the purse of the charity visitor who had come in that afternoon and had given the children a dollar bill for the coupon, when she
heard the story of the newsboy and his sacrifice. In the evening the professor's wife came home and said to him, "I heard such a story of a little newsboy to-day, at the meeting of our District Charity Committee." And she told him the story of the newsboy and Susie. "And," she continued, "I just got the little dollar to keep." She took it from her purse and passed it to her husband. "What!" said the professor, as he read the number, "if here isn't my little dollar come back to me ! I left it in Bedford Street this morning." After a moment's pause the professor's wife said, "Jones's children won't have any Christmas tree. He told me this morning he could not afford one. Let us give them the little dollar." And they did, and so the little dollar went on its way, like the widow's mite of, old, blessing and being blessed because the benediction of Jesus was upon it* Let us bring what we have gladly and in gratitude to Christ for his blessing.
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
IV We must not close without remembering that nothing can be more certain than that if there is
one here who is weary of sin and lonely at heart, restless and unsatisfied, and anxious to know Christ, Jesus will surely be his Christmas guest. Do you recall the day when Christ was passing through Jericho ? And in J ericho there lived Zacchseus, a tax-collector, who was hated by the people because he had grown rich by unscrupulous dealings. But down at the bottom Zacchaeus was not satisfied. He had lonely hours when he longed for love and fellowship. At such times Zacchseus would shudder and say, "I would give half of all my wealth if I knew how to get out of this ditch of selfishness and sin in which I have mired myself." And so one day when the news came that Jesus was nearing Jericho, and the added news that old blind Bartimseus had been healed by him, Zacchseus pressed his way to the front of the crowd to get sight of Jesus. But he was a short man and had no chance until he climbed up into a tree and got his head above the crowd. And then Jesus came along and passed under that very tree. Suddenly he looked up, and those gentle, heart-searching eyes of the Master pierced away down into the heart of Zacchseus, and he said, "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down ; for to-day I must abide at thy house." Zacchseus was on the
394 THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE ground in a moment. Mr. Moody used to say that right there occurred Zacchseus's conversion, "somewhere between the limb and the ground." As Christ and Zacchseus walked away, on every side remarks were made, and bitter looks went with the word, "He is gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner." But, thank God, that is just like Jesus. He is always ready to go home with a poor sinner if there is a chance to do him good. O
sinful heart, this Christmas time may be the time of your redemption. It may be the beginning of a new and glorious epoch in your life. Christ is not only willing to be your Christmas guest, but he is seeking after you, begging for the opportunity. So I think we can, at the close of our study, agree with the poet as to where Jesus will spend Christmas : Where will Jesus spend Christmas? With her of the lonely room, With visitors few, One Visitor true, Will draw the curtains of gloom: Her face will grow bright In the heavenly light Of him whose presence gives songs in the night. Where will Jesus spend Christmas? Where father and mother smile, And fair children play Through the short, happy day, Remembering Jesus the while.
THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
It will double the glee, O Lord, if they see Thy face, as they gather at thy blessfcd knee.
Where will Jesus spend Christmas? Away in the heathen land, Where loving hearts tell Of the Lord they know well, Though few the glad news understand. As their hearts hurry back O'er the homeward track, The Master's presence will make up the lack. Where will Jesus spend Christmas? With the free man and the slave: With some on the sea, As of old he would be, The God of the bold and the brave: With the sinner who sighs, And for love's pardon cries: With the sick — with the one that at Christmas dies. Where will Jesus spend Christmas? With any who will invite, Though lowly the board, The Bethlehem Lord.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000